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The most common answer we give to “What does Contagious Companies do?” is this: we work with managers who were promoted, but not prepared. Nearly everyone who hears that statement says one of two things. “OH, we have some of those!” or “How fast can you get to my office?” All kidding aside, however, there is a big difference between being prepared for your next promotion and getting one. In some cases more preparation leads to faster promotion. In some cases, preparation does nothing to speed as the need was based on other factors. But, in any case, being prepared for a promotion and being prepared when you’re promoted removes mountains of headaches and frustration. So, what are the top tips? There are actually four secrets to ensuring that preparation happens in time for the opportunity to take on that next position, beginning with:

Secret 1: Tune it Up

Once you begin to eyeball a position, or even realize what you would next like to be doing, should a promotion be in your future, the most immediate action to take is to conduct a tune up. Look at your current skills, credentials, schooling, certifications, or even reputation and find the gaps that need to be filled. At what could you improve or achieve mastery that would provide skills, insights, or credibility in your next position? Inspect habits and behaviors that may be ones you’ve used to often or knew needed changing, but you just hadn’t gotten around to it. Determine, to the best of your ability, the reputation relations that may need some repairing. Are there those with whom you’re not connected? Are there those with whom you’ve had words in the past and the words now need to be different? Much as you would tune up a car, it is now time to look at all the various levels and parts and factors that keep your promotability up and running.

Secret 2: Light it Up

Unlike the implication, lighting it up is actually one secret that is less about spotlight and more about the fire that gets lit. In what areas do you need to kick in the after burners? Look for areas of performance that if you simply focused more like a laser and put in just one more hour could surpass expectations or budgeted numbers. Light that fire under you and others and then seek out ways to stoke it. But let’s talk about those others for a moment. If you seek a promotion into leadership, unless the stars simply line up in your favor, those kinds of decisions are based on how well one already shows signs of leading others. Are you an influencer? Are you a grass roots leader with no formal title? Are you already the go to person and the leader apparent? If so, the title is merely a foregone conclusion. In either case, leadership or promotion to a new individual performer level, is well served by a spark that ignites higher levels of results.

Secret 3: Talk it Up

With engines running at full speed and the tune up actions in process, you will now find it helpful to let others know what you all you are doing. This is not the same as bragging. Talking up your achievements or those of your team members is one of the only ways management will have any awareness of your activities. Talk up the actions you’ve taken. Talk up the plans you’ve made. Mention achievements of those for whom you have the responsibility of leading. Talk these items up both casually and in formal scenarios and do so in a confident assertive manner. You may think it impossible for others not to notice how hard your working, but unless your boss’s door faces yours and he or she has little else to do than peer over your shoulder, they don’t know what you do. But, they need to.

Secret 4: Turn it Up

This secret is actually no secret at all. People hire and promote team members far more often based on affability, likability, and approachability, than a particular skill set. If you’re seen as someone who gets along with nearly everyone or at least has few enemies, then chances are you’ve turned up the corners of your mouth at more than one person. Quite simply, this secret focuses on your attitude and demeanor and if those two aren’t as one who fits in the existing community of those at the level to which you aspire, you may have some work to do in this area.

Getting promoted isn’t the goal for everyone, but it’s an important goal for some and wrought with numerous expectations both on the side of those vying for a new position and those doing the hiring. These four secrets will rapidly increase your preparation and even if that next promotion or position doesn’t come as soon as you’d hoped, keeping up these four actions will keep you on the short list and create opportunities perhaps even better than the one you currently believe is your only next, most logical option.

Monica Wofford, CSP is a leadership development specialist and professional speaker. Her coaching, books, and skill based training programs are requested internationally. Monica is the CEO of www.ContagiousCompanies.com and a candidate for the Florida House of Representatives. She may be reached at 1-866-382-0121.

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